Financial difficulties relatively new problem for many Greeks
BRUSSELS -- Greece's latest deficit-cutting measures may help the country escape its debt crisis, but higher taxes and wage cuts will be a hardship for many Greek citizens, who already are the most likely in Europe to report problems paying their bills. Fifty-seven percent of Greeks, according to a Flash Eurobarometer survey conducted late last year, are constantly struggling to pay day-to-day bills or have fallen behind on at least some.
These financial difficulties are new to many Greeks, which may make the reduced wages and higher tax burden present in the austerity measures feel like even more of a shock. Forty-three percent of Greeks say their households did not have problems paying ordinary bills in the past 12 months but are now struggling with them and report at least a moderate risk that they will be unable to cope with unexpected expenses in the next 12 months. For an additional 18% of Greeks, these problems are not so new; they had problems before, they currently have them, and they anticipate more.
Among the 43% of Greeks who are relative newcomers to hardship, workers who are not self-employed, and professionals in particular, are more likely than others to be highly represented. Further, those in the large urban centers of Athens and Thessaloniki, where there have been violent protests and strikes against the austerity measures, are also more likely to be in this group.
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Results are based on Flash Eurobarometer Survey FL286 Monitoring the social impact of the crisis: public perceptions in the European Union. The survey obtained interviews - fixed-line, mobile phone and face-to-face - with nationally representative samples of EU citizens (aged 15 and older) living in the 27 European Union Member States. The target sample size in most countries was 1,000 interviews; in total, 25,630 interviews were conducted by Gallup Hungary together with a network of fieldwork organizations from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, 2009. Statistical results were weighted to correct for known demographic discrepancies. The average margin of error at the country level is +-3.2 percentage points. The full report written by Gallup Hungary can be found on the European Commission Web site.